Things change so fast in our communication world now that your chunk of cheese probably doesn’t stay in one place long enough to attract ants.

And then there’s the whole Google algorithm mystery. We thought we knew how traffic was being driven to our client sites, right? Keywords, content (first long white papers, then short “bites”), then banner ads and cross marketing with like-minded targets. Social media has changed all that.

Facebook and other companies that track people’s online habits can put the right ads in front of the people most likely to buy. With digital media blooming to half of the marketing budget, ROI is the big monster we face daily.

Do ads work when a customer is searching specific terms? Or is it the banner ads? A recent test was done by halting major spending on a large search engine and the advertiser saw no dip in traffic. In another situation, Gap shared results that suggested brands should use search ads to promote things about that brand that people wouldn’t otherwise discover rather than market something they are already known for. So, maybe lingerie rather than jeans ads at the Gap?

Data, rankings, reviews all influence consumer (human) behavior. As marketers, we all want to think out of the box. Now, just where is that box?